It wasn't the result Prospect had hoped for, but coach John Camardella and the Knights will take the effort.
Prospect's boys basketball team stayed with state-ranked Evanston for 3½ quarters Saturday before falling 75-63 in the final day of the Joe Majkowski St. Viator basketball tournament in Arlington Heights. With the victory Evanston (5-0) was able to claim the tournament title in its first year as a member of the six-team field.
Despite the loss, Camardella was pleased with his team's performance in the game and in the tournament. The Knights finished 3-2, with their other loss coming to Conant earlier this week.
"We didn't back down once tonight," Camardella said. "I was really proud of our guys. We had a short turnaround and we walked through a few things earlier today. We didn't do anything over the top. I thought the guys did real well."
Prospect kept Evanston in check early and led 9-8 with just over two minutes left in the first quarter.
Evanston showed its depth, as the Wildkits' bench sparked on a 12-0 run from which the Knights never quite recovered.
"They ended up with four bench 3s," Camardella said. "The strategy was to get them to shoot from the outside, and they hit 59 percent of their 3-point shots."
Prospect was able to close to 31-24 at the half.
The Knights stayed close thanks to the play of David Swedura, Frankie Mack and Antonio Gardener. Prospect was able to get as close as 55-49 with 5:56 to play on a basket by Matt Szuba and had a chance to get even closer. But a Knights turnover led to a 7-2 run by the Wildkits put the game away for Evanston.
"It was hard playing against these guys," said Swedura, whose 20 points was just 1 point below his career high. "They are a top team in the state and we just wanted to fight them as good as we could. There is no reason not to hold our heads high. We wanted to show them that we're not just suburban team and that we can come out and fight."
Mack had 14 points for the Knights while Szuba had 9 and Gardner 7.
Purdue-bound Nojel Eastern led 4 Evanston players in double figures with 24 points. Elijah Williams had 15 points while Jaheim Holden Chris Hamilton each had 10.
Evanston coach Mike Ellis said the Viator tournament was an important start for his team.
"Any time you can win titles, it is good," he said. "You play for a just a few during the regular season, and then real titles come at regional, sectional, supersectional and state. To get the first opportunity and be successful at Thanksgiving, our guys wanted it."
Camardella said playing an Evanston team that runs the court at a faster faster pace than the Knights are used to seeing will pay dividends down the line for Prospect.
"Our guys are remembering what it is like to play at this pace," Camardella said. "That is what we want."